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Ask Someone: 2008 Chevrolet HHR -Starter issues?

I was driving my Chevy HHR LS 2008 down the road and the engine shut off. I tried to start it but but the starter would not engage, Any ideas?

A starter issue will not cause an engine to stall once it is running. I’d be looking at the battery connections or even the battery itself.

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As @MY_2_CENTS says, the starter will not cause the engine to stall.

When trying to start the engine;

Did you hear just a click ?
Did you hear the loud humming of the starter even turning ?

If just a clicking noise, I would check the battery cables.
If they are clean and tight you may need a jump.

If after the jump the car starts, but dies soon after the jumpers are removed, the battery is too dead to run the engine. Indicating that either the battery is shot, or the charging system is not working.

If you hear the loud humming of the starter, but it does not turn the engine…then the starter bendix is bad.
Time for a new starter.


Battery connections and ignition switch is where I’d look first. Make sure the connections at the battery posts are clean, no signs of corrosion, and tight. That it won’t crank now, that’s actually a good thing, b/c it should be easier for a shop to diagnose. If you want to try something yourself, measure the voltage at the two starter motor terminals (terminal to starter case) during attempted cranking. Tell us what you measure.

did you put it back in park or neutral to try to start it?

I was driving and the car just shuts off. I pulled to the side of the road I then tried to start it. The starter tried to start the car for about two seconds and then it sounded like the starter drive was not mashing in. A real bad sound like the teeth was not touching the flywheel. I checked the flywheel and the teeth are all in good condition. It sounds like there is not enough power to make the starter mesh in with the flywheel. Anybody got any ideas.

What you may be hearing is solenoid chatter due to insufficient voltage. Check your battery and connections.

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I was driving and the car just shut off. I pulled to the side of the road I than tried to start it. The starter tried to start the car for about two seconds and than an

yep, what @MY_2_CENTS and @George_San_Jose1 said. Check your battery and connections.

So how old is the battery? If it’s the original then the others are correct and you’ve been extremely fortunate to get this far with it.

Its a new battery had it double checked

according to the mechanic at the garage the timing chain broke, that’s why the sound of something clashing

That would definitely do it. The most common cause of timing chain failure is not changing the motor oil often enough.

A close second would be running the motor oil level chronically low or near out.

The oil was changed on a regular basis when the mechanic said it needed to be changed it was done and there was plenty of oil. I have been told that those kinds of motors do not hold up no matter how well they are taken care of. And this one certainly was well maintained!

Anything mechanical can fail, even a timing chain. Get it fixed and see if the battery is fully charged. Maybe all will be right when the timing chain is fixed.

The mechanic claims that when the timing chain breaks it usually affects the valves thus maybe having to put on a new head. How do you feel about that?

I don’t think any of the three engines available are interference engines, meaning that the valves do not interfere with each other or with the cylinder during a full cycle without the timing chain to keep them apart. If you repair the engine, have the mechanic show you the damaged valves still in the cylinder head before you agree to valve replacement.

That’s true with some engine designs and not with others. jtsanders explains why.

Question: what’s an efficient way for the mechanic to find out? Inspect piston tops through the spark plug holes? Or just put on the new chain or belt and find out that way? Other ways?